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70% Of Infants Are Denied Rights To Breast Milk In Nigeria – UNICEF, WHO


By Princess-Ekwi Ajide,  Abuja

Statistics have shown that over 70% of infants are denied their rights to benefits of breast milk in their formative years in Nigeria thereby leaving Exclusive Breastfeeding rate in the country at 29 percent.

In a joint statement in commemoration of year 2022 World breastfeeding week, the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), stressed the need for governments to step up their resource allocations to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding policies and programmes especially for the most vulnerable families living in emergencies.

They noted that, only 9% of organizations have a workplace breastfeeding policy, thus resulting in lack of enabling environment for mothers to breastfeed their babies optimally.

UNICEF’s Executive Director, Catherine Russell and WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the results are high stunting rates of 37% of children Under-5, of which 21% are severe, and wasting among children under 5 years of age (7%).

They continue to present severe consequences for the child as breastfeeding also acts as a baby’s first vaccine, protecting them from common childhood illnesses.

The emotional distress, physical exhaustion, lack of space and privacy, and poor sanitation experienced by mothers in emergency setting, means that many babies are missing out on the benefits of breastfeeding to help them survive.

According to them, only 44 percent of infants are exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life, short of the World Health Assembly’s target of 50 percent by 2025 and fewer than half of all newborn babies are breastfed in the first hour of life, leaving them more vulnerable to disease and death.

For the survival, growth, and development of millions of infants the need to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding is now more important than ever which is why UNICEF and WHO are calling on governments, donors, civil society, and the private sector to step up efforts by prioritizing investing in breastfeeding support policies and programs, especially in fragile and food insecure contexts, equip health and nutrition workers in facilities and communities with the skills they need to provide quality counseling and practical support to mothers to successfully breastfeed.

They further urged governments to protect caregivers and health care workers from the unethical marketing influence of the formula industry by fully adopting and implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, even in humanitarian settings, implement family-friendly policies that provide mothers with the time, space, and support they need to breastfeed.

The aim of this year’s world breastfeeding week with its theme “Step up for breastfeeding: Educate and Support” is to enlighten the public on the vital role of breastfeeding which stands against diseases and all forms of child malnutrition.


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